His son's picture became an iconic image from 2015 for the worst reason. Now he speaks.
When his son drowned, the whole world took notice. His message is so important.
You may not know him, but you've certainly heard of his son.
His name is Abdullah Kurdi, but you probably know him best as the father of Alan (originally reported as Aylan), the drowned 3-year-old refugee boy whose picture captured the attention of people around the world.
Alan, along with his mother and his older brother, drowned attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea from Turkey into Greece. Their goal, like so many other refugee families, was to escape war-torn Syria and find safety in Europe.
Alan's father Abdullah doesn't want other families to go through what his did. He needs our help to make that happen.
We, as human beings and citizens of the world, need to empathize with the struggle facing the refugees fleeing Syria. Are they really any less worthy of safety and dignity than the rest of us?
That's what Abdullah asks in a video that aired recently on Channel 4 in the U.K.
There's no better time than the holidays to take a moment to think about love, family, and peace.
Abdullah, who has lost all of those close to him in his life, isn't asking for money or for goods. He's asking for humanity, love, and kindness. He's asking us to be grateful for what we have in life and to open our hearts to refugees.
The sad fact remains that the U.S. remains leery about accepting any Syrian refugees. 54% of Americans oppose taking in any refugees from Syria. Why? Because despite the fact that refugees are fleeing terrorists, there's worry that the refugees could be terrorists. Since the Paris and San Bernardino attacks — in which none of the perpetrators were Syrian refugees — this has become an especially hot topic of discussion.
His goal is simple: peace on earth. Getting there? A bit more of a challenge.
And maybe it starts with a tiny step. Maybe the path to world peace starts with acknowledging that we need to treat each other as people first rather than coming into situations with preconceived notions about who someone is on the basis of their religion or nationality.
Stereotypes hurt us all. Holding on to stereotypes prevents peace.